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Bromance describes an intense feeling of intimacy between two heterosexual men but which doesn't involve sex.[1] A form of brotherhood and close friendship. It is a portmanteau which combines the terms "brother" with "romance". The term was first thought coined in the 1990s by the editor of Skateboard Magazine, Dave Carnie, referring to relationships between skaters who bond after spending much time together, however Carnie disputes this believing that claim originated from a false attribution on his Wikipedia biography, which was then erroneously picked up by the media.[2] The first verified use of the term appeared in surf culture magazine Transworld Surf Magazine, published in 1999 by editor Chris Cote.[3][4] The Oxford English Dictionary debuted Bromance in its 2013 edition, satisfied with the Cote evidence.[5]

There are indications the term is more extensively used in the media rather than in everyday usage.[6] Sometimes the term has been used to describe friendship between men in a critical way, particularly in the political sphere.[7] But a report from Lake Superior State University included the term "bromance" along with 14 others on their 2010 list of "Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness."[8] On the list, bromance beat out the term "Chillaxin'" but was right behind "Too Big to Fail".[8]

Bromance in the media

Picture of a man outdoors.
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest thinks a bromance can "last forever."

Surprisingly, the subject of heterosexual male-male guy likes guy stories have caught on in the media in the 2000s. MTV made a television series entitled Bromance which is a "tongue-in-cheek skein" with the usual dating series conventions like in ABC's reality-show program The Bachelor.[9] It's a bunch of guys vying in a contest to win the Platonic affection of The Hills TV star Brody Jenner.[9] A reporter for Variety explained the show's format:

The "Bromance" winner will be invited to join Jenner's entourage and fill the Pratt void. Losing contestants will be kicked out of the show's bachelor pad home base each week in a "hot tub elimination ceremony" -- in which the guys will leave in just their swimsuit, dripping wet, luggage in tow. Throughout the series, the bros-in-training will have to contend with paparazzi, be asked to serve as Jenner's "wingman" and follow through on physical activities such as skydiving into Las Vegas.[9]

The New York Times critic Ginia Bellafante thought the TV show was "unwatchable" and a "a comparatively conventional but completely unwatchable reality show."[10]

TV star Ryan Seacrest has admitted to having had bromantic relationships:

I can speak from experience -- girls can come and go, but a 'bromance' can last forever. -- Ryan Seacrest.[9]

Other media projects have emphasized the theme of brotherly love, such as movies like Superbad and Knocked Up which feature "straight male pals" bonding.[9] In Superbad, after a night of "wacky hijinks, the two lads wind up in sleeping bag together exchanging intimacies with each other;[6] after a drunken exchange, one of the characters tells his buddy:

I just love you. I just wanna go to the rooftops and scream, 'I love my best friend, Evan!'[11]

But Time Magazine critic Richard Corliss didn't like the whole idea of films focusing on the subject of love between men in a bromance, and used the term "closet-gay" to describe these films:

I guess I have to say that, like most other liberal New York heterosexuals I'm a card-carrying homophiliac; so in calling the films closet-gay, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It just strikes me as a dominant trend in the year's comedies...[6]

The movie I love you, man was a comedy featuring an intense bromance between two men, in which they make up in time for one of the men to get married to his female fiancee. Critic David Edelstein from NPR explained the movie's premise:

I Love You, Man takes an over-familiar premise and inverts it. In Judd Apatow movies like Knocked Up, a child-man enters into a grown-up relationship with a woman and has to face up to adult responsibilities — which means balancing buddydom and domesticity, a classic theme since Diner. The gimmick here is a protagonist, Peter Klaven, played by Paul Rudd, who's slightly effeminate, mature to a fault, engaged to a woman, and who doesn't have close male friends — which won't make for much of a swinging bachelor party. He needs what the movie calls "man dates."[12]

The Huffington Post in 2008 suggested that when "some guys now not only admit to same-sex infatuations without suffering a paralyzing identity crisis but announce them amounts to a seismic cultural shift."[11] And when a center-right leaning political commentator such as David Brooks treats the administration of center-left leaning Barack Obama with "respect," commentators at The New Republic describe the relationship as a "bromance."[13] The film The Hangover features four guys going to Las Vegas for a "booze–babes–and–baccarat bachelor party two nights before the wedding."[14] The common feature of many of these movies, according to Corliss, is "the assumption by men of the traditional movie male and female roles" and which feature women as "creatures either to ignore or flee from."[14] A critic for the San Francisco Chronicle suggested that the relationship between Captain Kirk and Spock in the latest Star Trek movie was a bromance.[15]

In addition, celebrities such as actor Tom Cruise and soccer star David Beckham have been linked in a bromance.[16]

Historical roots

Picture of a painting made in ancient Greece depicting students at the Academy.
Did Aristotle have a man crush on Plato?

Aristotle's classical description of friendship is often taken to be the prototype of the bromance. He wrote around 300 BCE, "It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends' sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality." Writer Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle wondered whether Aristotle had a man-crush on his teacher and fellow philosopher Plato.[17] Hartlaub described the sense of a "man-crush":

Man Crush -- the completely non-sexual feelings that develop when one heterosexual male finds another dude to be so cool that Guy No. 1 wants to spend as much time as possible with Guy No. 2. Aristotle had a Man Crush on Plato. Richie Cunningham had a Man Crush on the Fonz. And for the entire month of April and part of May, everyone in the Bay Area with a Y chromosome had a Man Crush on Golden State Warriors star Baron Davis. The Man Crush has always been a delicate subject among straight men, with a very complicated rule set. It's considered OK to spontaneously proclaim your love for an NFL quarterback when he just scored a touchdown. It's not cool to point out that Bob from human resources always looks nice in that blue sweater. It's socially acceptable to have a poster of a shirtless and sweaty James Hetfield from Metallica on your wall, but never a half-naked or even fully clothed picture of Orlando Bloom. But we're at a crucial point in Man Crush history, where a perfect storm of events could make it possible for even the most insecure guy to proclaim his undying like for his fellow man.[17]

There are examples of famous intense male friendships throughout most of Western history and such relationships were likewise common. It has been posited that in the late 19th century, Freudianism and the emergence of visible homosexuality directed heterosexual men to avoid expressions of intense affection.

Research into friendship and masculinity has found that recent generations of men, raised by feminist mothers in the 1970s, are more emotionally open and more expressive. There is also less concern among men at the notion of being identified as gay and so men are more comfortable exploring deeper friendships with other men.[18][19][20]

Another factor believed to influence bromance is that men are marrying later. According to a 2007 study conducted by the Rutgers University National Marriage Project, the average age of a man's first marriage is 27, up from 23 in 1960. It was also found that men with more education are waiting until their 30s before getting married.[19] The financial pressure of staying single longer may lead to men becoming roommates for extended periods, promoting bromance.

Gay-straight bromances

While the term has generally been applied to straight relationships, mixed gay-straight relationships have also been dubbed bromances. Examples of well-known gay-straight bromances (sometimes dubbed "homomances" or "hobromances") include Ronnie Kroell and Ben DiChiara from the reality series Make Me a Supermodel, in which the pair was nicknamed "Bronnie"[21] (similar to such celebrity couple nicknames as TomKat and Bennifer), the Survivor: Gabon relationship between Charlie Herschel and Marcus Lehman,[22] and American Idol's Kris Allen and Adam Lambert which was given the name "Kradam".[23]


  1. Bromance. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved on 19 October 2013.
  2. Carnie, Dave (20 September 2009). The Response to Bromance. King Sh*t Magazine. Retrieved on 19 October 2013.
  3. Broism Dictionary. Transworld Surf. Retrieved on 19 October 2013.
  4. Transworld (28 October 2001). "Word 3-7". Transworld Surf. Retrieved on 19 October 2013.
  5. Editor (22 March 2013). Bromance. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved on 21 October 2103.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Richard Corliss. Superbad: A Fine Bromance, 'Time Magazine', Aug. 17, 2007. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  7. Jodi Jacobson. Waldman and Saletan: Oh, What a Fine Bromance!, 'Huffington Post', June 29, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-08. “"Two men, No Uteruses" was the name given by Will Saletan and Steve Waldman to their June 22nd mutual-admiration-society blogging heads chat on "common ground," in what I suppose was an effort to be cute. During the hour-plus program, they spent as much time as possible complimenting each other's work and as little as possible on any real substance regarding reproductive health and choice issues.”
  8. 8.0 8.1 Say No More: The Banned Words of 2010, 'Time Magazine', Jan. 02, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-03-08. “1. Shovel-ready 2. Transparent/Transparency 3. Czar 4. Tweet 5. App 6. Sexting 7. Friend as a verb 8. Teachable Moment 9. In These Economic Times ... 10. Stimulus 11. Toxic Assets 12. Too Big to Fail 13. Bromance 14. Chillaxin' 15. Obama as a prefix”
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 MICHAEL SCHNEIDER. MTV taps Jenner for 'Bromance', Variety, Jun. 9, 2008. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  10. GINIA BELLAFANTE. West Coast Fashionista Takes On Manhattan, Manolos in Tow, The New York Times, January 4, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Anya Strzemien. Bromance Comes Out Of The Closet, 'Huffington Post', 2008-03-26. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  12. David Edelstein. Choices At The Cinema: Romance Or 'Bromance'?, 'NPR', March 20, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  13. David Brooks' Barack Obama Bromance: Inside The Unlikely Situation, 'Huffington Post', 2009-08-31. Retrieved on 2010-03-08. “These days, the center-right Brooks frequently seems more sympathetic toward Obama than the liberal Paul Krugman. He has written columns praising Obama's Afghanistan policy, education proposals, and economic team. Even on broad areas of disagreement--deficit spending, the sprawling stimulus bill, health care reform--Brooks tends to treat Obama and his administration with respect. "My overall view," Brooks told me, "is ninety-five percent of the decisions they make are good and intelligent. Whether I agree with them specifically, I think they're very serious and very good at what they do." It is an odd situation to say the least: David Brooks, prominent conservative, has become the most visible journalistic ally of arguably the most liberal president of his lifetime.”
  14. 14.0 14.1 Richard Corliss. The Hangover: A Bro-Magnon Bromance, 'Time Magazine', Jun. 05, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  15. Peter Hartlaub. Kirk and Spock are tip of the bromance iceberg, 'San Francisco Chronicle', May 13, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  16. Tom Cruise-David Beckham Bromance Detailed In Book, 'Huffington Post', 2009-07-09. Retrieved on 2010-03-08. “When the couple relocated to L.A., they moved - where else? - just five minutes from Cruise's home with Katie Holmes on San Ysidro Drive in Beverly Hills.”
  17. 17.0 17.1 Peter Hartlaub. Summer sizzles for Man Crushes -- and there's nothing wrong with that, 'San Francisco Chronicle', June 08, 2007. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  18. Phillipot, Suzy. I love you, man, The McGill Daily, 2008-10-06. Retrieved on 2008-10-28.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Bindley, Katherine. Here's to 'bromance', Columbia News Service, 2008-03-24. Retrieved on 2008-10-28.
  20. Rowan, George T. et al. (2003). "A Multicultural Investigation of Masculinity Ideology and Alexithymia". Psychology of Men & Masculinity 4 (2): 92–100.
  21. Aterovis, Josh. Interview with Ronnie Kroell and Ben DiChiara,, 2008-04-06. Retrieved on 2008-10-28.
  22. Juergens, Brian. "Survivor: Gabon" bromance update: Marcus likes his fruit,, 2008-10-17. Retrieved on 2008-10-28.